Design Thinking in Software Development... What's the Deal?
Written by Janke Bester
According to Tim Brown, the CEO of the international design and consulting firm: IDEO, “Design thinking is a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements of business success.”
When it comes to software development, the value of a good user experience is becoming more recognised and acknowledged by both designers and developers. In order to ensure that strong customer relationships are built and valuable feedback is being utilised, the design thinking methodology is essential to the process of developing new software, while achieving the goals and objectives of the business. Developers and designers alike are encouraged to step into the shoes of the users to ensure that the product that is being developed meets the needs of its users.
How can this be achieved?
This is where design thinking comes into play. Design Thinking is a method that uses iterative prototyping to test each idea that is being developed to make informed decisions and to establish whether or not the solution will address the user’s problem.
The Design Thinking Process
There are five major steps in the design thinking process:
Step one: Empathise
In empathise, the goal is to gather insights about users and understand objectives, needs and wishes. It’s about putting yourself into the mind of the user and understanding the way that they think.
Step two: Define
Next, you want to take the insight gathered in the first step and define the user’s problem and what you are trying to solve.
Step three: Ideate
This is where you start thinking about solutions. Multiple stakeholders take part in this step and brainstorm different solutions to the problem.
Step four: Prototype
Here you take your ideas and make it into something feasible that is able to be put through step five, which leads us to the testing part of the process.
Step five: Test
Probably one of the most important steps in the process is testing your prototype with your users. Why is this important? Well, if your solution doesn’t address and solve the problem of your user, then it’s time to go back to the drawing board. The testing process is non-linear and often takes multiple iterations that involve measuring success and learning from the feedback that results in changes and re-testing.
You may be wondering "so what?"
Design thinking, containing the word ‘design’ can be somewhat misleading as you may be wondering what it has to do with software development. The design thinking method can be applied to each stage of the software development process. These being planning, analysis, design, development, testing and maintenance. Through making informed decisions in each one of these stages, designers and developers are able to create a product that is needed by their users, preventing resources from being wasted and the actual problem to be solved.
The truth is...
We like to think that designers and developers each have their own agenda. Designers are involved up to a point, and developers are only brought in at a certain point. However, designers and developers coexist, especially in the software development space.
Design Thinking allows both designers and developers to have a good idea of what the user needs, and how the experience can be personalised to create an experience that the user enjoys being part of and that will lead to them wanting to use the interface.
We can't ignore the fact that...
With the design thinking method, problems such as unnecessary features, redundant product adoption and frustration can be avoided and developers can provide a thorough and effective product that individuals that were advocated for would want to use.
“Design thinking is a noteworthy approach to building custom software products. It brings together clients’ business goals and end user needs and embeds them in a perfectly tailored solution that addresses the problem as effectively as possible.” — Vladimir Shidlovsky, Co-Founder and CTO at SumatoSoft.
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